Giving birth to twins is nothing less than a miracle; if they have different skin colours, it’s an even bigger miracle. It is cool that you planned only one child but are getting one more as a bonus – even if your Baby Budget disagrees!. When you think of twins, you may automatically think of two people who look identical. Non-identical twins are also common, but convincing people that they are twins is more complicated. Imagine someone saying to you, “Hey, those two look so different from each other” This might happen if you have twins that don’t share your skin tone; they have different hair type, hair colours, eye colours, or skin tones.
So – What actually counts as ‘Twins’ and can Twins be difference Colours? Let’s find out!
Identical Twins and Fraternal Twins
There are two types of twins – monozygotic which is known as identical, and dizygotic, which is known as fraternal. The only difference between these two types is the number of fertilized eggs that result in the pregnancy. Monozygotic twins are born when a single fertilized egg splits into two during early development; this results in the same genes, and identical twins are born; they have the same characteristics and personalities.
The chance of having twins is around 1 in 250 – So congratulations on winning the lottery!
Fraternal twins are born when there are two separate eggs and two separate sperm. These twins are genetically similar but born separately and have different characteristics and personalities. They may also not be similar to each other. Both types of twins can have different skin colours depending on various factors. It is more likely that identical twins have the same skin colour because they have the same DNA and the same genetic makeup. There is a rare chance that identical twins do not have the same skin colour. Fraternal twins do not usually have the same skin colour because they are born separately, and have different genetic makeup. However, the type of twin does not determine whether the twins will have the same skin colour or not because there are other factors that cause the differences in the skin colour of twins.
Twins of different colours are called “biracial twins” or “mixed twins.” Mixed twins are fraternal (Dizygotic) twins born into a mixed family. The family members have diverse skin tones and other racial characteristics. Having different skin colour twins will help at least help a mother to remember who she has fed; mothers with identical twins might often feed one child twice. Their specific genes determine a person’s skin colour. Mixed twins are born from multiracial parents, thus, they have separate genetic codes determining the melanin in their skin. In their genomes, the parents of multiracial children have a lovely blend of gene variations for light and dark skin.
Chimerism is a rare biological phenomenon in which a person has two sets of distinct DNA. In twins, it can be described as two separate fertilized eggs in the womb having two different sets of genetic materials. This difference causes twins to have different colours. Chimerism is a rare occurrence in twins, however, it is one probable reason for twins with distinct colours. Not all twins with varied skin colours are chimeras since other factors, such as environmental influences, can influence skin pigmentation. Chimerism is difficult to diagnose because there are no evident physical changes or symptoms. It can be diagnosed through genetic testing which reveals two distinct DNAs.
This occurs when there is a mutation in the cell of a developing embryo. When the embryo grows and divides, the mutation is carried forward, resulting in two genetically distinct populations. The twins can have different colours when a genetic mutation arises in them, which causes skin pigmentation. This results in one twin having different skin pigmentation than the other; this difference causes different skin colours. Chimerism and twin mosaicism are different; however, their effects on skin colour are similar. This also has no physical symptoms and can only be determined through genetic testing.
Detecting Twin Skin Colour
Genetic analysis can be carried out to determine the skin colour of twins. One such example of genetic analysis is prenatal testing. Chronic Villus Sampling or amniocentesis is used to perform this analysis.
In CVS, a sample of tissue is taken from the placenta, while in amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is taken, both of these contain genetic material from the fetuses. The samples are then analyzed to understand the twins’ genetic makeup, including determining their skin colour. There are a lot of genes that interact with each other to form the skin colour, therefore there is not a single gene that determines the skin colour but various genes contribute to the differences in skin pigmentation. Variations in different genes such as TYR and MC1R can impact the melanin produced in the skin, directly affecting skin colour.
Through analyzing this, it is possible to determine whether the twins are likely to have different skin colours. It is important to understand that this prediction is not always accurate. Skin colour is also affected by environmental and genetic factors, including exposure to light, diet, and other factors that can impact the production of melanin in the body. Moreover, the genetic factors are not understood in detail and there may be a lot of genes that cause differences in skin colour that are yet to be identified.
How likely it is to have mixed twins?
Twins with different skin colours are extremely unlikely, but not impossible. Because they have the same DNA, identical twins have the same skin colour. They began as one embryo and then split into two. Fraternal twins begin as two distinct embryos and are exactly similar to other siblings. According to James Wilston, there is a one in 500 chance that mixed-race parents will have twins with different skin colours. Isabella and Gabriella Shipley are fraternal twins that formed from distinct fertilized eggs. Each embryo receives a unique combination of genes from its mother and father, resulting in various skin tones. Clementine Shipley shared photos of her mixed-race twins on social media and received a lot of support from people worldwide.
Let me make it easy for you, assume a black man and a white lady have a child. Each gene colour is mirrored in the child, one from her mother and one from her father. She will get all of the genes for black skin tone from her father and all of the genes for white skin tone from her mother. As a result, the daughter’s skin tone will be somewhere in the middle. She will have one black and one white form of every gene in her body, one from her father and one from her mother.
Consider another example. Now let’s wonder if the mixed-race daughter marries another mixed-race man, and the two decide to have some fun and have children together. This child will also inherit half of the mother’s skin colour genes and half of the father’s skin colour genes. Yet, because her mother has one of each, the child has a better chance of inheriting one of the white or black genes. The same goes for her father. She has a 50% chance of inheriting a single skin colour gene from her mother and a 50% chance from her father. Thus, the daughter has a 25% chance of inheriting the black gene from both parents, a 25% chance of inheriting the white gene from both parents and a 50% chance of inheriting both the black and white genes.
Several genes influence skin colour, and most of the time, the child will look somewhere between white and black like their parents. There is a 25% probability that the child may get all black genes from both parents. If there are ten skin colour genes (as there are many), one has a one-in-a-million chance of having all black skin on all ten of them. If you have twins, one of them has a one-in-a-million chance of inheriting all the black genes, while the other has a one-in-a-million chance of inheriting all the white genes. Anything is possible.
The same Genetic Code does not guarantee the same skin colour
The monozygotic twins share the same gender, genetic coding, and appearance. Yet, there are identical twins that do not resemble each other in any manner. Amelia and Jasmine are twins, Amelia has dark skin, brown eyes, and black hair, while Jasmine has fair skin, blue eyes, and curly hair. They are not identical at all but they are twins. This means that even if the twins share all of their genes, there is no assurance that they will be identical. The twin differences affect how they develop in the womb. This is known as a somatic mutation, and it occurs when the Genetic markers in each of the twins alter. The twins’ skin tone is also influenced by their surroundings. The colour of the twins’ skin is affected if one has more sun exposure or develops a skin pigmentation problem. It is unusual for Amelia and Jasmine to be of different skin colours while also being identical.
Challenges of Mixed Twins
Mixed twins encounter numerous challenges. One of the most difficult challenges is that they do not have the same skin tone as their parents; they may feel excluded, different, or adopted at some point in their lives. They may also be asked why they don’t look like their mother or father, or why they don’t look like their sibling. Another issue is that culture does not tolerate uncommon skin tones; for example, if a child with a white skin tone is born in the African region, society will be astonished. This raises the issue of concealed identity. The identity crisis is difficult to deal with because twins must find their own sense, follow their aspirations, and develop their own identity over time. Society plays a vital role in the process of discovering oneself, which entails looking for various things to identify who one is and what one desires. These twins may confront racism at some point in their lives as well. Another difficulty is that if one child receives more love from his parents than the other, the child may think that his parents do not love him because of his skin tone, which can lead to mental health problems.
It is also more likely that twins with different skin colours may develop different identities, and it is also challenging for them to understand their cultural background and place in the world. These differences can also challenge extended family members to accept.
Since mixed twins have different colours they may have different medical needs. They may develop different health conditions, for example, a child with a darker skin tone may lack develop a deficiency of Vitamin D which can cause health problems. Parents are required to monitor the health of their children to identify their concerns early on. The parents might also face misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis based on the children’s skin colour, especially in cases where the doctor is unfamiliar or insensitive to the need for mixed race or ethnicity and those who make assumptions based on the skin colour of the children. The parents may face biases or prejudices from the doctors. However, the parents can work closely with their doctors to ensure that their twins receive the best possible care despite their colour.
Opportunities for Mixed Twins
It is a unique opportunity for parents to raise twins with different skin colours. Cultural exposure is one such opportunity. Parents of twins with different skin colours can provide their children experiences of different cultures and traditions. These experiences will not only develop their understanding but also a diverse overview and appreciation of different cultures in them. This exposure will be valuable if the family is homogeneous and lacks diversity in the school’s environment.
“My Culture is my pride” Cultural pride is another opportunity. Twins with different colours develop a strong sense of cultural pride, which becomes a source of identity and strength for them. By embracing different sides of culture, they easily fit into different groups and develop a strong and deeper understanding of the world. By embracing these opportunities, the twins with different colours develop a more diverse and inclusive worldview which makes them stronger, more understanding, and more resilient individuals.
Social and Cultural Implications
The parents need to understand cultural sensitivity and the social implication of their children’s skin colour. The cultural background and traditions should be taught to the children, this will make them understand about the cultural differences. Different skin colour twins also increase the awareness of issues that are related to ethnicity or race. Parents that are raising these children are more prone to racism and discrimination. They might have to seek out support to help them overcome these issues and educate their children. With patience, love, and support parents can help twins to embrace the differences in their colour and succeed in life, and work towards creating a more inclusive and accepting society for everyone.
Having twins of different colours is an uncommon and lovely occurrence. Many others, though, would not believe they are twins or one of the twins is really your child. Identity issues may arise for the twins as well as they grow. With these challenges at hand, it is critical to assist families and children suffering from these issues by talking to them and showing them that you care; this will encourage them. Letting children realize that we understand what they are going through and coaching them on how to deal at school can make a significant difference. Parents can also educate their children about racism; this will teach them how to respond to racist remarks, respect everyone, and create an inclusive environment.
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